Showing posts with label Thai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thai. Show all posts

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Very few cuisines can tingle the childishness in you and for me Thai is one such cuisine. Being introduced to mainstream Thai half a decade ago by my wife, I took an instant liking to the cuisine. Barring one or two, most restaurants in Chennai produce what I call ‘Fake Thai’ cuisine as they buy curry powder or paste and do the rest claiming it to be a Thai curry. April being the month with the Thai New Year aka Songkran, many restaurants wanted to catch the Thai bus. As always the handful always prevailed to be the best till the festival started at Park Hyatt. 

True to their standards, Park Hyatt had flown down  Chef Supattra from Park Hyatt Dubai who happened to be a Thai and has been dishing out Thai food for the last 23 years. This intrigued me as all restaurants in Chennai do not have a Thai chef but rather talented chefs trained in Thai.

Place:

As usual, the festival took place in the ever vibrant and vivacious restaurant in town ‘The Flying Elephant’. Being a restaurant where most cuisines get closest to authentic, I kept my expectations very very high. This time around, we got to sit next to the Chef’s studio and mistake me not, it resembled like a high end street food cart that one can see in the streets of Bangkok.

Food:

The thing that impressed me the most was how precise and coherent the entire festival menu was. The menu was divided into different categories such as Wok, Salads, Noodles, Grilled, Claypot, Steamed, Fried and Desserts. Basically in the streets, each of these would form a cart by itself. 
(Tom Yum Goong)
To start the evening, we went in for the ever classic ‘Tom Yum Goong’. This is one soup that is quite synonymous with Thai soups yet most restaurants fail to hit the mark. But the soup here was probably even better than most places in Bangkok. Couldn’t think of anything else as I kept sipping the soup because it truly put me in a state of trance.
(Sea Food Salad)
The soup was followed by a ‘Seafood Salad’ with Scallops, Prawns, Fish, Thai Celery and Tomato Cherry. The salad was screaming of freshness every bite. The salad had the perfect balance of chilliness and sourness that instantly hits the mark. If the flavour was to be compared on a scale, the balance was right in the middle, Spot on.
(Pad Thai Prawns)
(Minced Beef with Basil)
Next up was from the Wok section. First dish that made its way was yet another Thai classic, the ‘Pad Thai’ with prawns and bean sprouts. Being a big fan of Pad Thai, I was quite kicked to dig in. The first mouthful truly brought back memories of my first Thai meal which incidentally happened to be in Bangkok. The flavours were amazing and each element complemented the other in a harmony. Following the Pad Thai was the ‘Minced Beef in Basil’. This dish had no complains at all. It was very refreshing in the mouth courtesy the strong infusion of basil along with a very tender minced beef.
(Shrimp Toast)
(Shrimp Toast)
Just to bring in some crunchiness, we were served a plate of toast. Yes, a ‘Shrimp Toast’. This was a completely new dish for me and was an instant hit. Its basically small triangles of croutons deep fried with a layer of shrimp paste on the top. The triangles by themselves were too yummy however when dipped in the accompanying apple sauce, the flavours accentuated many-folds.  
(Thai Green Curry)
Following this, it was time for the mains and in true Thai style ordered for a ‘Green Chicken Curry’. To be honest, I would rate this green curry as the best tasted so far in my culinary journey as it was just mind boggling. Together with sticky rice, the curry was just fantabulous. No amount of praise can justify the emotions. My next visit to Dubai will definitely have a pitstop at Park Hyatt Dubai at least to savour this curry again.
(Tub Tim Grob)
(Sticky Rice with Mango)
Having had a very gratified savoury session, it was now time to do the finishing touches. The desserts we went in for the evening were again the classics. A ‘Water Chestnut Dumpling’ aka Tub Tim Grob. Tub Tim Grob ranks way high in my list of all time favourite desserts that I took the initiative to learn how to make it by myself. And must I say, I can replicate it close to 90%. The Tub Tim Grob here had a small twist to it. There were slices of Jackfruit that were added to keep in with the season. This additional sweetness did provide a unique taste and was very welcoming. The next dessert was the ‘Mango with Sticky Rice’. I’m pretty sure nothing can go wrong with such a simple dessert. The sticky rice was well drenched in coconut milk and the perfect sweetness of the mango provided for a very subtle end to the meal.

Price:

The icing on the cake at this Thai festival was the pocket friendly prices. With dishes priced from Rs. 495 – Rs. 895, a meal for two should set you back by about Rs. 2500 – Rs. 3000 for two.

Location:

The Flying Elephant is located at Park Hyatt Chennai in Guindy adjacent to the Raj Bhavan. I would strongly recommend a reservation for meals on weekends.

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Saturday, 30 November 2013

Pizza's have always been associated with the genome of fast food but in reality pizza's during it's inception era was indeed a single complete dish more often associated with healthy food. But over the years, thanks to the various marketing activities of international food giants the entire concept has changed. It has now become common to associate a pizza that is related anything to American as the fast food version of the well known pizza. These are often the ones topped with loads of toppings and cheese. But can you imagine a pizza chain that has a very American name yet the pizza's served there reflect the authentic Italian ones in nature. Yes, I'm talking about the famous "California Pizza Kitchen" which has its branches all across the globe.

CPK as it's commonly known is a well recognized american chain of restaurant that differs a lot from the regular pizzeria. CPK in addition to pizza's also serve up numerous other exotic dishes such as pastas, salads finger foods and so on. My first introduction to CPK was through a relative who used to tempt me with his experiences at CPK in the US. So when I knew CPK was launching in Chennai, I just couldn't wait to savour their offerings. Being in the now hip mall in Chennai, the Phoenix Market City, it was quite a drive from central Chennai during the bustling traffic. But from my experiences that evening, it was a drive quite worth it.

Tucked in a corner of the mall, the first thing that strikes you is the decor of the restaurant. It has a mix of traditional wooden feel coupled with a modern contemporary look. As we were being seated, I noticed that they has a semi-open kitchen that was constantly dishing out beautifully plated dishes. The first dish that made it to our tables was the 'Thai Crunch Salad'. This is an original creation of the CPK kitchen and consisted of crispy rice sticks, some crunchy wontons, roasted peanuts tossed in a overwhelming mixture of cabbage, carrots, cilantro, green chillies and chicken. The dressing for the salad was their in-house signature lime-cilantro along with some peanut dressing. The next up was the 'Mediterranean Salad' which was a pure veg salad comprising of a mixed leafy combination of cherry tomatoes, onions, kalamata and some olives. This was served with some pita breads on crumbled feta cheese topped hummus bed.
(Thai Crunch Salad)
(Mediterranean Salad)
This was followed up by the appetizers. The first of the lot was the 'Mediterranean Foccacia'. It is basically a pizza bread served with some flavoured olive oil and parmesan. The next was the 'Sonora Chicken'. The chicken was perfectly grilled with flavours of lime. It was accompanied with a salad and chipotle dipping sauce. This was followed by the 'Spicy Chicken Supreme and Slaw'. It consisted of boneless breast strips coated in a very crisp Panko breadcrumbs. It was served with a special coleslaw and a ranch dipping sauce. The last among the appetizers was the 'Lettuce Wraps'. This dish was unique in a way that the wok seared Shiitake mushrooms along with water chestnuts in soy ginger sauce needs to be mixed with the crispy rice noodles that it is served on and then this entirely needs to be wrapped in the provided iceberg lettuce cups. It was very refreshing and packed a punch.

(Mediterranean Foccacia)
(Sonora Chicken)

(Spicy Chicken Supreme and Slaw)
(Lettuce Wraps)
With the appetizers done, it was finally time for the pizzas. The first one up was the 'California Veggie'. The crust was a deep dish multi-grain crust with exotic toppings such as broccoli, grilled zucchini, grilled baby corn, sun dried tomatoes along with the regular vegetables. To be honest it was more like a salad pizza as barring the mozzarella, the pizza was a full fledged healthy affair. The next up was the 'Chicken Fajita Pizza'. First impression completely blew me out. The pizza was wafer thin but enormous in size. True to its name, the pizza had fajita written all over it. Spread with cilantro pesto, the pizza was topped with lime marinated onions, assorted peppers and shredded chicken with ample amount of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. This was of the most unique pizza's I've ever tasted and trust me it's a must try. This was followed by two different pastas. If you are wondering what pastas are doing in a place called pizza kitchen, don't be mistaken, their pastas are a fusion between the American and Italian flavours. The first pasta served was the 'California Putanesca', which was a penne served with imported Italian tomatoes, some basil, red hot peppers along with garlic and black olives. The non vegetarian version is served on a bed of grilled chicken breast. The next pasta was the 'Aglio E Olio'. This was a spaghetti literally on fire. Tossed with red chillies, garlic and olive oil, it was served with cubes of juicy chicken bites.
(California Veggie)
(Chicken Fajita Pizza)

(Really really thin!!!)

(Chicken Fajita Pizza)

(California Putanesca Penne)
(Aglio E Olio Spaghetti)
By the time the pasta's were done, we started getting signals that the tummy was reaching it's breaking point and it was time to wrap up. But then how can we miss out on the desserts. It was when this thought was running that we spotted on the menu a dessert that no one can say no to. There tucked in between few other desserts was the divine 'Tiramisu'. In all honesty the Tiramisu at CPK, was one of the finest I'd tasted in India. It is another of a their must have dishes.
(Tiramisu)

Though Chennai has always been at the fag end when it came to international restaurants opening shop here, it is better late than never. The overall experience at CPK was very good and contrary to their brand name, this place has loads of non-pizza dishes that are truly worth a try. A meal for two should cost you anywhere between ₹1500 - ₹2000 depending on how big your appetite is.

California Pizza Kitchen in located on the ground floor of the swanky Phoenix Market City in Velachery.

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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Being a very cosmopolitan city, one thing that the food circuit in Chennai had been missing for a long time was the presence of an authentic pan Asian restaurant. We have some amazing Chinese, Thai, Korean & Japanese restaurants but no restaurant that serves all these cuisines without compromising on the authenticity But Chennaite’s the scenario has now changed. With the opening of ITC Grand Chola, there was great expectations in the food circuit about the amazing restaurants that were to be part of this luxurious hotel. One amongst them filled in the gap that we missed for so long. Yes the a pan Asian restaurant known by the same name as the cuisines it serves, “Pan Asian” in our own ITC Grand Chola.

Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing that hits you is the collection of Wines the restaurant boasts of. After being lead through some amazing shelves of Wines, the restaurant throws itself upon oneself with its rustic interiors and a fantastic open kitchen. Yes, the entire kitchen forms an integral part of the restaurant that provides a great experience seeing your order made almost in front of you. 

The menu was crafted keeping in mind the essence of the restaurant and true to its name had cuisines from three different provinces in China, a section dedicated to Thai and finally another dedicated to Japanese. The interesting aspect of the entire menu was the matrix arrangement of core ingredient against each cuisine. This I felt was quite innovative as one need not get confused with complex names but can rather select the core ingredient such as poultry, lamb, duck, seafood or vegetarian and then cross it with the cuisine to order your appetizers and mains. 
(Banana Blossom Salad)
(Steamed Duck Carpaccio)
(Pan Asian’s Som Tam)
The first to be served was the ‘Banana Blossom Salad’. The salad was served very aesthetically on a bowl made of banana fibres and had the right amount of crunchiness that a salad needs. This was followed by the ‘Steamed Duck Carpaccio’. I must admit that this was the first time I’d ventured out into unfamiliar territory of having a dish with duck as the core ingredient. Boy was I surprised, the duck was tender and at the right temperature being a cold dish. It was served along with some ponzu jelly and orange crushed ice which complemented the flavour well. Can’t wait to try another hot duck dish soon. The next to be served was the ‘Pan Asian’s Som Tam’ which was the restaurants own interpretation of the classic Thai salad. 
(Wok Tossed Chicken)

(Sichuan style Crispy Prawns)
(Stir Fried Squid)

(Californian Apple and Fresh Fennel Soup)

The ‘Wok Tossed Chicken’ was one of my favourites of the evening. The chicken was cooked perfectly with a sumptuous amount of nuts that truly elevated its flavours. The ‘Sichuan style Crispy Prawns’ was served next. The prawns were cooked in a succulent nut sauce that complemented the spice of the Sichuan style cooking. This was followed by the ‘Stir Fried Squid’, wherein the squid was crispy and coated in a nice chilli basil crumble. To end the array of appetizers, we were served with a ‘Californian Apple and Fresh Fennel Soup’. The soup served in Pan Asian has a twist to it. You are presented with a big bowl with the core ingredient and then provided the soup separately that can be poured in. This helps understand all the different flavours of the soup. The soup is so filling that it is a meal by itself. 
(Chicken Gaobao with Pixian Chilli)

(Phad Cha Talay)

(Asian Greens)
(Teppanyaki Fried Rice)

The mains started with the ‘Chicken Gaobao with Pixian Chilli’. The combination of leeks, nuts and peppercorns made the flavours stand out. The next was the ‘Phad Cha Talay’, which was basically an assortment of seafood cooked in turmeric and basil. This was followed by some Asian Greens in white garlic sauce. We were served with ‘Teppanyaki Fried Rice’ to go with the mains. The rice had a nice flavour of hotness in it while at the same time the hotness wasn’t too overpowering. 

(Serenity on Pebbled Path)

(Vahlrona Chocolate)

To sum up the evening, we were served with a ‘Serenity on Pebbled Path’ and a ‘Vahlrona Chocolate’. The pebbled path was indeed serene. It comprised of a nice pineapple orange pond with rock chocolates to make up the path. The chocolate on the other hand was exotic which went perfect with the dark cherry compote and spearmint ice cream that accompanied it. 

On the whole, my dining experience at ‘Pan Asian’ was truly Asian without any compromise on quality or taste and in my knowledge is the only authentic Asian restaurant existent as of now in Chennai. If you are a major lover of Asian food, then it definitely needs to be on the top of your must visit restaurant list.

Pan Asian is located at the ITC Grand Chola.

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Tuesday, 15 January 2013



Reaching towards the end of a long and much sought after holidays, thanks to the Pongal celebrations, everyone at home were still reeling under the laziness that had set upon over the last 4 days. Being a foodie, I never let a single chance of eating at a new place slip by. Wanting to try Azzuri Bay for a long time, I at once threw up the suggestion at precisely the very moment a plan to eat out was being conceptualized. Having heard from quite a few peers about Azzuri Bay, I promptly made our reservations and looked forward to having a go at their new lunch buffet. 
(Broccoli Cream Soup)
We were a bit behind our reservation time as I had to drive almost across the city to reach the restaurant from my home. Arriving at Azzuri Bay, the first thing that stood out to me was their ambiance. Unaware that their buffet is served at the rooftop area of the restaurant, I was overwhelmed when I was led to the 3rd floor. The view was just perfect with all the commercialization visible to the eyes yet far from the disturbing noise they make. Being a little late, we immediately jumped into the food. The soup of the afternoon was a 'Broccoli Cream Soup'. The soup had a good flavor in it but a tad more creamy. Other than that nothing extra ordinary about the soup. 
(Veg Spring Rolls)

(Spring Rolls)
(Chilly Paneer)
(Thai Crispy Fish)
(Stuffed Mushroom)
(Starters Plate)
Once we were done with the soup, the next to be savored were the starters. The buffet consisted of 4 starters, viz. Veg Spring Rolls, Chilly Panneer, Thai Crispy Fish and Stuffed Mushrooms. The Veg Spring Rolls were crispy and oil less. The fillings were fresh and folded into a small bite size portion that was delightful. The Chilly Panneer I felt was a major let down. It was too spicy and the Panneer seemed hard and rubbery. The Thai Crispy Fish was good but had a strong flavor of Thai sauces in it but the fish was well cooked which gave an overall satisfaction. The Stuffed Mushrooms gave me a mixed opinion. Some of the one's I had were a bit salty while the others were balanced. The fillings were delicious and provided a good closure to the starters.
(Vegetable Steak)
(Cheese Grilled Fish)
(Veg Penne)
Coming to the Mains, being a tri-cuisine restaurant, they had a few dishes in each. The Italian was represented by 'Chickpeas & Mixed Vegetable Steak', 'Grilled Veg penne in Red/White sauce' & 'Cheese Grilled Fish'. All the 3 dishes passed my test. The steak was packed well and the sauce accompanying it was a perfect contribution to it and really helped lift it's flavors. Being a fish avoid-er  I felt the Cheese Grilled Fish was cooked to the point and was well dressed in the cheese sauce. The pasta had a good mixture of vegetables in it and was one of the best dishes of the afternoon. Heard from peers that Italian is really good at Azzuri Bay.
(Veg Noodles)
(Hunan Chicken Gravy)
(Beijing Dumplings)
The Pan-Asian cuisines were represented by 'Veg Noodles', 'Beijing Manchurian' & 'Hunan Chicken Gravy'. The noodles were more like the regular Chinese noodles, nothing that really stood out. The Beijing Manchurian was more on the lines of veg dumplings shaped as balls and cooked in a Manchurian sauce. The effect of the sauce on the dumplings were overwhelming. The Hunan Chicken Gravy was the dish that stood out in this representation. The chicken was cooked soft and had a good amount of spiciness in it along with the right balance of meat and sauce.
(Rice with Podi)
(Different Podi's)
To complete the main offerings, we had the South Indian cuisine which were represented by 'Kal Dosa', Lemon Rice, 'Steamed Rice', 'Mutton Khurma' followed by 3 varieties of Podi with Ghee. Skipped the Kal dosa as I generally tend to avoid dosa's unless they are straight from the hot stone. I believe the dosa loses it's flavors as it cools down. The Lemon rice was the typical one that we get in other south Indian restaurants. The Mutton Khurma was a good accompaniment for the Steamed Rice. But what really made my day at Azzuri Bay was the availability of Podi for the rice. Ever since I was introduced to Rice with Podi and Ghee, it instantly shot into my all time favorite list of delicacies. The moment I saw 3 different types, I was like stoned. I had to try em all but owing to my dietary conditions decided to try them all in just one plate with a mouthful of each. It was just divine. I'm sure the satisfaction and fullness that Rice with Podi can give can never be attained by consuming any other delicacy. 
(Gulab Jamun)
(Kaju Halwa)
(Brownie with Chocolate Sauce)
Being stuffed with the rice and podi combination, the desserts were more of a formality. The desserts that were made available today were 'Gulab Jamun', 'Kaju Halwa' & 'Chocolate Brownie'. The jamun was well prepared and not too sweet which according to me is a perfect one. I hate those that are served at certain restaurants where the syrup is too sweet that it powers the taste of the jamun itself. The Kaju Halwa was more of the regular types available at most places and the brownie with chocolate sauce was also passable except for the brownie being a bit too hard. Really wished that they had some desserts from the Pan-Asian cuisine rather than having 2 from the Indian. 

(At Peace)
With the buffet costing Rs. 500/- nett per person, I am of the opinion that it is a good value for money and food if not extraordinarily great makes for a good buffet over many other restaurants in town. Perfect if you are looking at treating a big group of people especially considering the ambiance and the rooftop options. 

Azzuri Bay is located #13, 1st Crescent Park Rd, Gandhi Nagar, Adyar.

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